Dylan Moran at Journal Tyne Theatre, May 2011

Dylan Moran. Bernard Black. Dylan Moran. Bernard Black.

At one time Moran and his creation Black, cantankerous owner of Black Books, in the sitcom of the same name, were almost indistinguishable. Black was Moran at his most extreme – dark, moody, childish, yet brilliantly random and linguistically clever.

His live show Monster (2004) continued in a similar vein and watching Moran flit elegantly between almost poetical whimsy and drunken ranting was a joy to behold.

So what on earth was going on last night at the Journal Tyne Theatre, Newcastle? The show started off well enough with Moran’s disheveled silhouette ambling onto stage. Glass of wine in hand, he gesticulated and raged with familiar pessimism about everything and anyone. You empathised with his slightly deranged, drunk stage persona and just assumed that the disjointedness was part of the act. In part, this is true, he drifts from shouting at cornflakes to stating that travelling on Ryanair is proof that Hell exists.

Soon though, a rant ended up in a cul de sac of his own making, Moran fumbled and launched awkwardly into his next piece. This was where it started to unravel for me: it happened with too much regularity and jarred with Moran’s delivery.

I love to get lost in his whimsical train of thought: his word choice is often inspired. Glimpses of this brilliance were still there, I share his dislike of anything Apple and particularly liked his obvious distaste at the need for an app to enable you to download something as pointless as a picture of a squid. It was just disappointing that the show as a whole didn’t gel.

Black has left the building and I’m not sure that what’s left is strong enough for a whole show. Moran seems likeable enough, his material is fresh, it just all needs tightening up.

I’m a bit ashamed to say that my biggest laugh of the night was saved for the post-show drinks (it’s a ridiculously short set), where local bar Tilley’s had a special dessert on the menu:  Dylan Meringue.

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